9 November 2013 – Calgary, CANADA
The king has returned!
To no one’s surprise, two-time Olympic 1000m champion and two-time Olympic 1500m Silver Medalist Shani Davis is in prime form at the start of another Olympic season.
Speedskating’s middle-distance master mirrored his Olympic finishes of 2006 and 2010, winning at 1000m and finishing second at 1500m to open the 2013-14 World Cup campaign at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, Canada.
Shani staked out 1000m gold with 1:07.46 – the fastest time in the world so far this year – for his U.S.-best 54th individual World Cup victory and all-time best 37th at the distance.
After a minor slip in the opening 200m (16.8), Shani showed some of his pre-injury speed over the first 400m (24.8), then kept his blinders on over the last lap to chase down his pair, Kjeld Nuis of The Netherlands, who lead for the first 1450 meters before seeing Davis overtake him at the line from the outer lane. Nuis (1:07:57) and U.S. teammate Brian Hansen (1:07.64) rounded out the podium.
After the race Shani spoke with Dutch broadcaster NOS: “I’m trying my best to get back to top form and be competitive with the world again and trying to do really special things in Sochi.”
At 1500m Shani matched his result at last year’s season-ending World Championships in Sochi, taking the Silver medal with a technically sound race.
The 17-time 1500m World Cup winner skated a solid 1:43.11 after even lap times of 25.3, 26.4, 27.7. But Davis didn’t get quite enough help from his pair to keep pace with race winner Koen Verweij (1:42.78), who went head to head with his Netherlands teammate, bronze medalist Kjeld Nuis (1:43.75).
“I put in a good summer (of training)…and I’m really happy with where I stand right now,” said Shani to NOS. “[This weekend] is definitely a step in the right direction, but I’m definitely not satisfied. There’s still more to do and I’m gonna go back to work [after next weekend’s World Cup].”
One more 1500m WC win would bring Shani into a tie with all-time leader Adne Soendral of Norway, who won 18 1500m WC races between 1992 and 2002.
The World Cup circuit now heads to Salt Lake City, where Shani established the current World Records at 1000m (1:06.42) and 1500m (1:41.06) in 2009 ahead of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
[Photo: Martin de Jong]